Friday, September 30, 2005

New Mexico Ranks Fourth in the U.S. in Food Insecurity

As Congress decides whether to cut food stamp benefits, let's consider what it would mean to us here in New Mexico. Our state has the dubious distinction of ranking fourth in food insecurity in the nation. Food insecurity is another word for hunger. Any person who at one time or another does not know where his or her next meal is coming from is food insecure.

A study published in 2001 by America’s Second Harvest, a network of U.S. food banks, reported that one out of every two clients served by social services agencies in New Mexico said they must choose between paying for utilities and fuel, or food; 39 percent face the choice of paying for their housing or for food; and 27 percent say they must decide whether to buy medicine or eat.

And many of the people who require some sort of food assistance already have jobs. “The biggest worry is the rise in the number of working poor, those who work and receive wages that don’t cover all their bills,” Melody Wattenbarger, director of the Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque, told The Santa Fe New Mexican in April. Read article: New Mexicans Using Food Banks Rising The article was actually a translation of a Spanish-language piece published by La Voz del Norte, Danos Hoy Nuestro Pan de Cada Día

To make matters worse, the ever-rising cost of transportation (i.e. fuel), a reduction in state funding for food banks, and an uncertain U.S. economy are hampering the ability of the eight food banks in New Mexico to provide as much food to agencies that serve the poor.

So yes, a cut in food stamps would worsen an already bad problem here in New Mexico.

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